le plus loin le plus serré

le plus loin le plus serré
mourning art

in memoriam

"yet I tell you, from the sad knowledge of my older experience, that to every one of you a day will most likely come when sunshine, hope, presents and pleasure will be worth nothing to you in comparison with the unattainable gift of your mother's kiss." (Christina Rossetti, "Speaking Likenesses," 1873)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Graveyard Book

Since my "thanksgiving" day was spent comfortably nestled, alone, in my little house in the woods, I was able to lounge about and read to my heart's content (okay: i have NEVER read to my heart's content, since I have an ongoing, insistent, persistent, insatiable desire to read). Due to the nice perk of working at a bookstore, Wednesday night I borrowed Neil Gaiman's new(ish) book, THE GRAVEYARD BOOK.
and read it all today (after finishing the last, unfinished, pages of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and before taking up Harriet the Spy for a re-read).

I've read some of Gaiman's books - Neverwhere, Stardust - and loved them, and I've tried others (American Gods) with no luck. I'm intimidated by graphic novels, so I've never done more than peek in an odd copy of The Sandman here or there. But on the strength of Neverwhere alone, I'd say I'm devoted to Gaiman. I'd heard good things about The Graveyard Book, and on a whim, decided to give it a try.

And it was marvellous. Truly marvellous. What a wonderfully brilliant, clever, weirdly moving, book.

I've got nothing to compare it to, really. The only think I can come up with is the half-ghost boy in China Mieville's Un Lun Dun. But this story, of the live boy Bod who is given Freedom of the Graveyard after being orphaned, then adopted by ghosts (The Owenses, last living in the 18th century). Gaiman's cleverness in his cast of graveyard characters is wonderful; I particularly like his habit of citing a name, followed by its tombstone inscription. Like Eva Ibbotson's, Gaiman's ghosts are largely benevolent. Even the vaguely scary Silas, (vampire? i think?) is also an emotionally rich, intriguing character, and much loved by Bod.
The villains of the story, the Jacks of All Trades, are cleverly conceived, as well. Gaiman's obviously interested in story, and stories; in characters, in folklore, in quirks of the language - and I can't say I'm NOT also interested in these things. The way he combines and recreates these various elements is truly inspired.

The story of a live child raised in a graveyard is certain to be harrowing, at moments; hilarious, at moments; mysterious, at moments - and The Graveyard Book is all of those things. But it's also sad, and touching, and wondering, and wondrous, and courteous, and charming.

Bod himself is fantastically drawn. His interactions with everyone - with Liza Hempstock, with Silas, with Miss Lupescu, with Scarlett Amber Perkins, with Nick and Mo - are genuine and revealing. Bod makes mistakes, but - unlike many obnoxious characters in the world (both fictional and real) - he learns from them. He is able to admit mistakes, apologize, and refrain from committing them again. Instead of seeming cowed, weak or unadventurous, Bod seems intelligent - wise, even. Because of the danger of the man Jack (who murdered his family, and wants to murder Bod), Bod is not allowed to leave the graveyard. When he does, he inevitably falls into grave danger, and must be rescued by Liza and Silas.
But instead of persisting in seeing the world beyond the graveyard, Bod realizes he's in danger, and that his danger endangers the "people" he cares about. It's a striking difference from headlong heroic fools like Harry Potter; Bod never makes the horror-film mistake of opening that door, or going down that flight of stairs, and that is a testament to Gaiman's craft. Bod behaves the way a real human would - he learns, he changes, he grows. He makes mistakes, but he does some things beautifully right. The world of the graveyard is a wonderfully interesting one, and Bod learns an incredible amount, about everything (his teachers, all ghosts, have all died before 1900 or thereabouts; the graveyard's oldest inhabitant is Caius Pompeius, who came to England about 100 years after the first Romans. Bod's curriculum is thus wideranging, though admittedly weak in areas like "the modern world.").

Truly, this book makes me wish for more in a series - the Graveyard is such a compelling place, such an inspired setting, and Gaiman (of course) handles this setting brilliantly. The characters - especially Liza and Silas - are fascinating in their own right, and makes me want to read more about them. The possibilities of a graveyard "populated" by people ranging so far and wide across history and class are incredibly exciting.

This is a book to read again and again; it is one that I will have to purchase for my own library. I can't give a book much higher compliment than that, since - out of necessity - I strictly limit my new-book-buying.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

making the stage safe for boys everywhere

Tonight I finally saw High School Musical 3 in the theatre. I've been trying to coordinate this with a friend from my department for awhile, and finally, we made it (along with four other people - a mom with three kids).

I've been a fan of HSM for awhile now. What I like about these movies is their queerness, a queerness that is unmistakable to even a semi-trained observer. Though the veneer of hetero courtship covers all three films - Troy and Gabriela, after all, are the "stars," - the emphasis of the movies is consistently NOT on their relationship. Troy and Gabriela are incredibly chaste, only really kissing twice in all three films. It's a rated-G movie that still manages to bring a wonderfully queer subtext.

HSM3 pushes that subtext to the forefront. This one is really the Zac Efron show; word on the street is that old Zac was a little too big for his wildcat britches, and had to be paid WELL and catered to for the show to go on. Troy is the star of this film, and - though I am no Zac-maniac - Efron rises to the occasion admirably. There's a genuineness to his scenes that I don't remember from the other movies. He's not just there to be a heartthrob, although I lost track of the number of times he peels off a shirt or two (only once going totally shirtless, and then only seen from the back).

The plotlines, of course, center around the angst of senior year: where to go to school, how to deal with moving away from friends and girlfriends. for Troy, the bigger problem is: how to follow his heart and his dreams when for a very long time, his pushy dad has been pushing him along a certain track? What, exactly, ARE Troy's dreams?
This is not a bad theme, and it rings true for a lot of people well beyond high school. The intermingling of real life with the school's senior musical is a brilliant trick: we never actually see the prom, only the musical's re-creation of it. The senior musical is about senior year, literally, and the two - stage and real life - become twins of each other.

Because at its heart, this is a movie about musicals, and theatre. Sharpay and Ryan's big number comes early on, and shows them paying homage to a number of classical musicals in costume and choreography. The importance of living life in, on and around the stage is paramount to the movie, and it showcases this in an absolutely joyful, unrestrained way.

The girls are the weakest links of the show: Gabriela, Sharpay, the others have weak voices and are bad actors. For Sharpay, this suits her character; for Gabriela, it's simply obnoxious. But the boys in the film are in their absolute glory. Chad (Corbin Bleu) and Ryan (Lucas Grabeel) bring it like they haven't before. Chad and Troy do a surprisingly touching (but also pretty damn fierce) "duet" in a junkyard, and they are both amazing. Ryan is made choreographer of the senior musical, and he glows in purple argyles and white fedoras. Ryan is the most obviously queer character in the movie; he is never set into a hetero relationship (nor, alas, is he given a gay relationship). But the movie, I think, is honorable in not compromising on Ryan's gayness; he IS the Gay Drama Boy, a dancing queen, with a massive amount of talent. His talent is respected throughout the films, and Ryan is very rarely made a figure of fun. He's a pansy for sure, but not one we want to laugh at; we LIKE Ryan, and so does everyone else.

The movie's greatest gift is in its shrugging off the restraints of traditional masculinity. There's a broad spectrum of options represented here, all of them viewed as good and right for the characters who choose them. Ryan's pink-plaid-pants flaming choreography is at one end of the spectrum; Troy's dad, the basketball coach who antagonizes the drama teacher in HSM1 and has nothing but contempt for theatre, is the marker of truly butch masculinity. Chad, who sings and dances along with his friends, but not as enthusiastically, and who is a dedicated athlete, hovers at the traditionally butch end of the scale as well. But the others are more ambiguous; there's the basketball guy whose real passion in life is pastry-making. And of course - Troy, who struggles through three films to come to grips with his talents and love of basketball and jock life, AND singing, dancing and theatrical life. He hides his artistic talent, keeping himself "closeted" from his jock dad, but ultimately, Troy has to make a choice to be himself.

Choosing to be yourself, to be who and what you love, is a fundamental in queer activism, no matter how it's couched in theoretical terms. That these movies choose to push this message - one that can often feel terrible cliched and stale in any movie for younger audiences - is made fresh and new and exciting by the fact that being yourself sometimes means being a drama queen. or a masculine, straight boy who loves to sing and dance. And that all of these choices are okay, and that sometimes you don't have to choose: you can be a jock and a dancer.

I feel excited and inspired by this movie; it's full of cheesy highschool cliches, and everytime Gabriela opens her mouth I want to scream. But the junkyard dance, and Troy's big solo, when he has to figure out what he wants (basketball court or stage?) are powerful moments that feel real.

The film ends with graduation, with the characters dancing and singing and whooping it up as wildcats one last time. but part of the lyrics they sing is :
"I Wish My Life Could Feel Like A High School Musical"

and that's really what the movie's all about: making life feel like a musical.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

updated versions, and the President's Daughter

This weekend, in a mammothly foolish endeavor, I read the three "new" volumes in Ellen Emerson White's quartet about Meg Powers, first encountered as the eponymous President's Daughter.

I read, as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, The President's Daughter years ago, when I was in junior high or thereabouts. I re-read it quite a lot - it's funny, clever, interesting, with massively appealing characters and an intriguing and smart premise (Meg's MOM is elected President).
The following three books, which I'd never heard of before, though they seem to have been printed in the 80s, after the first (except the final installment, which is actually new), have been re-released in 2008, just in time for the elections (and, at the start of the year, coinciding with a potential Woman President). The four have been reissued in "updated" editions, each with a new cover representing Meg as the main character in a series of classic paintings - Wyeth, Da Vinci, Vermeer. I kind of hate the covers, but that's all right.

White's a fantastic author - sharp and witty as hell, and spot on in detailing the complex emotions of all her characters - and so I enjoyed reading the books. They get increasingly - dramatic (melodramatic?) - as Meg's mom is shot by a would-be assassin, then Meg herself is kidnapped and tortured by terrorists, before (in the final installment), going off, still battered and seriously injured, to college in massachusetts. The drama was a little much - what are the chances of a kidnapping AND assassination attempt in a single year? - but then, considering that White's attempting to discuss the first female president, it's possible. The recent barrage of insanity from anti-Obama crowds suggests that perhaps, a challenger to the Old White Man Network is in much more grave danger than one might expect.

I'm really happy to see these books back in print, and newly featured in bookstores. White's a great writer, and Meg's a thoroughly engaging character - a kind of slob, who prefers sweats and old button-up shirts, no makeup, and playing tennis; a very real-feeling girl who isn't girlie, who worries about boys and appearance without being consumed by it, a girl who hits her brothers, snaps at her parents, daydreams in class, cracks excellent jokes, plays with her cat, has longrunning inside jokes with her best friend - a totally believable girl. whose mother, by the way, is President.

The updating of the books works, too, which worried me at the outset. I recently came across the first four re-released Sweet Valley High books, and flipped through the pages to see what had been perpetrated. The books seem as shallow and inane as ever, only now - now! - the Wakefields and their friends have cellphones, iPods and Blackberries to further enhance their shallow inanity!

White, on the other hand, has been more discreet in her "modernizing" of her books. Meg's got a laptop, and an iPod, and she now drinks Cokes instead of the quaintly mid-80s Tab; her friends email, she carried a cellphone, mainly for security purposes - but otherwise, those details fade into the background. The most substantial change is to the politics of the book: White has moved Meg's mother's Presidency into an undefined future - a post G.W. Bush world (there's a nice joke about the dog being encouraged to use the GW Bush Maple Tree as a relieving post). It's also a post 9/11 world, so the terrorists who kidnap Meg are evidently members of a new Islamofascist splinter group. We get a reference to life in New York City, and terror alert levels, and "more than one plane."
But really: that's it. a few offhand references to global warming, and the politics have no more real specificity. Meg's mom - and Meg - are staunch liberal Democrats (VERY liberal), and the book pulls no punches about this. It isn't central, but it's an ever-present ideology, and it's one I love to encounter. Moreover, Meg's mom's presidency seems utterly believable, and is very rarely made into a historical women's issue - it's hard dealing with a parent who is President; it's hard dealing with her mom. the books never let us forget that it's IMPORTANT that a woman is president, and that it's something new, but it never beats us over the head moralizing about it, either. It feels natural. And the family's joking over political cartoons and tabloids, suggesting Meg's mother is incapable of governing because she's a woman, makes that particular question seem foolish and outdated.

There are some ridiculous aspects of the book - Meg's relationship with a cad of a player of a dude annoyed the hell out of me (she should be smarter than that!), and some of the college issues are also a little over the top. But on the whole, the series updates itself and advances in its narrative, wonderfully. And if the last book is a little long - well, even when I came to the last page (600-something), I felt a little wistful, wanting to know what happens next in the life of Meg Powers.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

new books, old books

I'm excited that Forever Rose is out. I'm patiently waiting to purchase my copy for reasons which I decline to go into here (they have to do with a new job, and potential discounts). In honor of Forever Rose, I re-read Caddy Ever After, which I found semi-disappointing after the first three Casson family books. The first-person narration puts me off. But on the re-read, I dealt with it okay. I still found it lacking; I especially don't like Rose's first-person narration, but I'll live with it.

The second volume of Octavian Nothing is due out on 14 October. Again - new job, discounts, and I'm excited. I really, really like The Pox Party, and I'm keen to read the next installment. Judith Plotz gave a phenomenal talk about the book, and Rousseau, at the 2007 ChLA conference, and I get all intellectually wound up when I think about it. That excitement carries into reading the book, of course, and so I'm anticipating the second book quite, quite eagerly.

I happened to be in a bookstore over the weekend, and as always, I checked out the children's/YA sections. And was floored to see a stand-alone cardboard display featuring Ellen Emerson White's novel The President's Daughter.
Reasons I was floored:
1) I read The President's Daughter when I was probably 11 or 12, so early 90s. I got it from the library used book sale. I always liked it a lot as a young reader, and when I re-read it sometime within 2008, I was happy at how well it held up. But I always assumed it was out of print, or something - it's from 1985, semi-topical, and though a really terrific read, not the kind of book that libraries are scrambling to stock NOW.
2) There's a SERIES. There are FOUR titles! FOUR! poking around online, I see that they were brought back in print in 2008 (election tie-in, hurray!). I'm skeptical about the quality, since they sound pretty freaking melodramatic, but White's writing in The President's Daughter is tight and witty and highly, highly enjoyable. I'm scheming now to get my hands on all three subsequent books, and cannot WAIT to read them.

I felt a bit sad, actually, realizing that White's premise - the teenage daughter of the first woman elected President - will be fiction for - well, probably quite some years. And recalling the scenes when Meg, the eponymous heroine, attends a NOW speech given by her mother, and sees how overwhelmed with happiness - joy/tears - that a woman is President - reading that as a younger reader, I never quite got it. But having seen Senator Clinton's campaign - and worse, or more - seen the hideous way the media has responded to the selection of Governor Palin as VP candidate - then, I understood why a group of feminists would cry with happiness at the election of one of their own (Meg's mother is quite clearly a liberal and feminist).

on the Old Books front: I dipped into Stephen King! re-read "The Langoliers" and "Umney's Last Case," which lead me to a very tattery copy of a Raymond Chandler book of short stories, which I've been reading rather delightedly this evening.

I've been struggling, a lot, in the last couple of weeks, with balancing my teaching with my politics. Teaching is activism, in my book, and normally I have no problems making that happen, but I feel like I'm not doing ENOUGH. I want to sit down with my class and read articles from the Times and the Post and wherever else media happens. I want to talk, at length, about what the hell is REALLY going on. I want to make feminism a real, meaningful, necessary force in the world, not just a weird group of man-hating lesbian bra-burning feminazis, which, alas, is what my group this summer believed feminists were. even my smart, liberal students had been tricked by this heinous Limbaughesque rhetoric.
I love children's literature for a lot of reasons, but a big one is because every issue that's important to me politically surfaces (as it does in most texts), and because - more for my students than for myself - these texts are formative for children's personal beliefs. I care about that, surely, but I'm more interested in shattering the beliefs of my students, or at least making them examine their own beliefs. But I'm feeling limited by rollicking adventure stories, by the choices I made for my syllabus.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

queer theory and the child

i have not read, at all, in the children's lit + queer theory realm. I'm not sure how I managed to miss this. Jody Norton's good, though by necessity rudimentary, essay on transchildren is about it. Lee Edelman's No Future doesn't count, since Edelman is surely no children's lit scholar. The book (what I've read of it, anyway) is staggeringly insightful. There are essays and articles floating around, and a couple of books that have collected them; Curiouser is the only one that comes to mind.

I need to read in queer children's lit theory, but I'm wondering at the outset: is the child already always queer?

or: what does it mean to be a queer child? I believe fervently that children have a (or several) sexuality(ies), but i don't know that it is expressed the same way as adult sexualities. in some physiological ways, obviously not. but in that vast array of components that comprise queerness, what can or do appear in children?
when does queerness happen? when does gender happen, for that matter? is a child gendered from the moment its parent(s) learn its anatomical structure, and rush out to buy pink or blue bedding accordingly? sneakers with baseballs, or sneakers with princess crowns?
(aside: interestingly, and I need to dig in my program for details, a woman at the MAPACA conference last year told me that she worked on children's clothing; and that the pink and blue gendering of baby's gear was a very, very recent development - like in the last 30 years or so).

if, as i accept, gender is a construct, then WHOSE construct is it? or is it always a collaborative effort?

and why are we - and by this i mean everyone, myself most definitely included - so desperate to resolve things into binaries? i do it myself; when i see a person whose gender is not instantly apparent, i try to figure out: is that a man or a woman?
i catch myself at it, now, and stop the querying, but the "instinct" to ascertain gender remains intact.

and what is a queer space, anyway? all the theorists talk about this "space" - what is it? where is it? is it a literal space, a multidimensional, plottable, locatable area in the world? or is it an abstract, a kind of thought bubble, hovering outside the main action? OR, better still: a combination of both?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


I read Stephanie Meyer's vampire YA novel Twilight this weekend. A fair number of other grad students in my department have become obsessed (I believe they are all Team Edward, for the record), and I caved, in an attempt to both keep up with YA book trends AND so i wouldn't feel entirely excluded from the only topic of conversation anyone cares about.

I was a little disappointed that I didn't get into it more. Twilight is no better and no worse than any other mid-grade YA romance novel. I actually found myself thinking a LOT about Nancy Garden's lesbian YA romance, Annie on My Mind. It's another book where I wanted very much to like it - because of its historical/critical significance as the 'first' mostly mainstream queer YA novel - but it was just so schlockily teen romancey.

ditto with Twilight.

I had a very hard time reading the book with a straight face. I laughed, often, at things that were unintentionally funny to me. For awhile, I suspected the book of having its tongue in cheek at times, but by the end, I'd decided, sadly, that it's meant to be straight and on the level. alas.

One thing I will admit: the book worked for me on some weird affective level. I regressed, quickly, to teen girl, pre-any-boyfriends. I didn't swoon for Edward - he's way too irritating and melodramatic without being at all self-aware, and he has no interests or personality besides sucking blood and obsessing over Bella - but I DID find myself wishing rather desperately at times for an intense can't-live-without-you sort of dramatic romance. The kind of romance you fully expect when you are a teenager. The kind of intensity that comes with your First Love (and never again, because novelty does add to the experience).

so in some ways, I give Meyer credit for being able to induce me to return to a mental/emotional age of 14. I resent her for it, because I have no desire to revisit age 14 (it wasn't that awesome, trust me), but I do give credit for tapping into that emotional vein.

A friend has given me a rundown of the plot for books 2 & 3, and I expect to be filled in on book 4. Today she floated the theory that Bella will turn out to be impervious to vampire venom - she won't be able to be "converted" to vampire. I like this, because it has a streak of the tragic, although that affective part of my brain just wants her and Edward to live happily ever after with a flock of tiny baby vampires, or whatever.

I'm also struck again with the way vampirism is such an obvious "blind" for sexuality. Twilight is pretty much the cleanest kinky book I've ever read. Vampirism is also a fantastic metaphor for adolescence (in between states, full of strange desires and needs you can't control, a kind of invincibility, etc).

but who can take seriously a vampire series in which the vampire SPARKLE like diamonds in the sunlight? Sparkly vampires? no. i just can't do it.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

apocalypse now!

My most recent reading all seems to be vaguely apocalyptic (post-apocalyptic, really) or just plain old futuristic sci-fi.

first up: Nancy Farmer's The Ear, The Eye & The Arm. Child_lit has been raving about this book forever, and for some reason I never looked it up. This is very unfortunate, because it turns out to be a FANTASTIC book. Really wonderful. I was completely captivated by the world Farmer creates in this book. The futuristic African society was a wonderful change from my normally relentlessly British and American-set reading. But I especially liked the Ear, the Eye and the Arm - their "superpowers," which the narrative never really explains (but the cover of the book says are due to radiation-induced mutations), were an inspired bit of genius. I like the idea of mutations having benefits, or being put to some use, and I suppose I also like that these are "natural" powers - though the result of mutation, the ability to hear and see and feel are not from technology. They come from the men's bodies. The Arm particularly captivated me, because I occasionally suffer from excesses of empathy. His extreme empathy made me wonder and sigh with fellow-feeling. The scenes when the Arm and the baby are mind-melding are exquisite.
My other moment of intrigue with this book: it's a futuristic society, with that post-apocalyptic feel (the trash people, the mutations), but it did not feel like a dystopia. I am very much used to futuristic books set in recognizably earthly locations having a dystopic aura to them, so this was a surprise. It got me thinking, though, about those categories: utopia, dystopia, and what they mean, how they apply to the Real World.

This became relevant when I read (irritably) David Levitan's Wide Awake, which is clearly a kind of utopia. I felt...annoyed reading that book. This is unfortunate because I liked Boy Meets Boy, and I really liked Naomi & Eli's No-Kiss List. In all honesty, I think what irritated me about Wide Awake was its utopianness. It felt falsely optimistic. I tend to prefer bleaker, more complex books; a utopia is a nice dream, but it's a little boring. It also annoyed me because it kept jerking me out of the narrative, and into contemplation of my own current moment, politically, economically, socially. Reading about a fictional "Greater Depression" at the same time the radio is blaring about the Subprime Mortgage and resulting Credit Crisis is not a reassuring thing. There wasn't much pleasure in the reading of this way, just a sense of frustration and a solid sense that: 1) things will never be that good and/or 2) i won't live to see it

I finally read my first Margaret Mahy book - a new one, Maddigan's Fantasia. I am not sure how or why I've never read any Mahy - it's just the way things fell out, I guess. I've only heard wonderful things about her work, so it's just one of those reading mysteries. Maddigan's Fantasia was quite good; it's after the apocalypse ("the Chaos") and set during the Rebuilding. The Fantasia is a travelling circus/magic/wonder show, that travels the "dissolving roads," bringing wonder from town to town. The Fantasia also seems to have certain geographical functions, as well as political and social ones: they are tasked with acquiring a solar converter to keep the main city running. In the meantime, two boys and a baby girl from the future show up to intervene in some crucial way that they don't yet understand.
Time travel always confuses me a little; I try to think it out maybe too logistically, and get confused - how CAN it work? how can you be in two places at once? or not at once? bah! the Time-Turner sequence in HP & the Prisoner of Azkaban always makes my head spin. But Mahy leaves the technicalities out, and also gives us Garland to focalize the entirely puzzling time-travel moments. She's as puzzled and mind-whirled as I was, which was a relief.
The book is quite good, with some wonderfully inventive moments - the chapters concerning a library absolutely charmed me to death (of course - libraries and books always do). I cannot say I really liked the ending, but it was an emotionally satisfying one (which is to say: complete, narratively appropriate, not jarring) if not what I would have wanted.
I will be reading more Mahy.

I also read The House of the Scorpion, again by Farmer. I think I've read most of it before, but I had no memory of the conclusion so - reading it (possibly again) was like reading it the first time. I quite liked it; I love the way Matt's movement away from the estate and out of the border country mirrors our own acquisition of knowledge about his world. The children's breakout from the plankton plant (eurgh!) reminded me forcibly of Holes. I did not mind being reminded of Holes, since it's a terrific book. The House of the Scorpion was nicely complicated, it seemed to me; people having to make decisions and choices with substantial repercussions.

Currently reading The Prophet of Yonwood, by Jeanne Duprau. It's actually pre-apocalypse, but apocalyptic in tone, and I actually have had to set it aside. It's the prequel to City of Ember, a book I quite love, and somehow knowing that the world (my world, our world, the world of Yonwood) is going to smash and ruin very, very soon is just a little too depressing. The apocalyptic world of the book is a little too like our own (all this talk of terrorists!) for me to feel safely distanced. I am not sure if I like the book or not, yet, but I intend to finish it regardless.

Other readings: Heck Superhero, which I loved. I want to teach it, badly. I'm not sure how or why or when or where, but I must teach that book.
Re-read The Amulet of Samarkand, and was reminded of how damn good the Bartimaeus trilogy is. I've read two other Stroud books - The last siege and - oh rats - the Burning on the hill (?) - and neither worked for me the way Bartimaeus does. I think Bartimaeus is one of THE best narrators I have ever read. Totally captivating, totally unreliable. I love the way the books explicitly point up Bartimaeus's unreliability, by alternating narrators. Those brief moments of overlap, when the third-person relates Bartimaeus's actions after Bartimaeus has narrated them are beautifully revealing of the flaws in Bartimaeus's character.

i feel lately like I've read up the library, and I'm feeling a little frustrated. I read so quickly! I'm craving longer books - actually, I have a craving for Angela Brazil-esque books. I've only read one of her books (Joan's best chum!) and it was so bad and good at once. I enjoyed it immensely, and I want more!

I can't keep re-reading Diana Wynne Jones in an infinite loop. I need new books!